Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's Band Everyone Has Heard of But More People Need to Listen to: Alkaline Trio

Full disclosure: I hate February.

It's still winter but all of the cool stuff is over. Christmas? Check. New Years? Check. Bowl games? Check. Super Bowl? Check. Also, 28 days, February? Just 28? Get your shit together. All of the other months are laughing at you. February sucks so bad the greeting card industry had to come up with a holiday to remind us that we love other people. What would we do in lieu of this fictitious holiday? Apparently moan and groan and commit acts of domestic violence at an alarming rate.

One quick order of business before we get down to business. I need to extend a shout out to Drinking Stories' newest fan. Belle writes an exceptionally witty blog entitled Life As We Make It. How do I know this? Well, I've read a good portion of it and the first post made me snort a little laugh and I'd only read the title. It's solid. Trust me.

Now, on to Alkaline Trio...

This is, you guessed it, a trio from Chicago, Illinois. I don't know what it is about that city, but it produces exceptional musical acts from all genres. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Smashing Pumpkins, Rise Against, Chevelle, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Twista, Common...the list goes on and on.

Sure, you may not be a fan of the punk/pop genre, but lyrically Alkaline Trio takes the cake. Matt Skiba, the most lead of the two singers, has an awesome voice and his lyrics are ironic, dark, macabre, but also touching and often tongue-in-cheek. Plus, I can muster enough range in my decidedly rangeless voice to belt out my own renditions of their songs when I'm in the car...alone...and at night...and not stopped at a light where other motorists can see me.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Smattering of Old Favorites or No Time to Write Anything New

You know how Saturday Night Live used to always be live every week? And then they started taking a couple of weeks off here and there? And then they took a week off after seemingly every live show? Remember that? Yeah, this is sort of like that. Enjoy the reruns!

Also, in case you were wondering, I AM NOT comparing myself in terms of "the funny" to SNL...well, maybe the Chris Kattan and Jim Breuer years.

Texas Is The Reason

On Fire For The Lord

Ancient Economics



The Fainter

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned at Scruffy Murphy's

Murder Most Foul

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Believe Me Now?

Have you ever been caught in a situation that appeared to the outside observer to be 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolutely, OJ in the white Bronco, Clinton's semen on Lewinsky's dress, Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick your fault? But it wasn't?

When my sister and I were in high school my parents recognized the need for a third car to accommodate our respective extracurricular activities. Early on in our pre driver's license days, there were a few too many left-at-the-soccer-field-until-8pm nights because one parent assumed the other was taking care of pick up duties. Additionally, my sister and I were into very, very different things and there was little to zero chance a band concert and a soccer tournament were going to be held a convenient distance from one another at the same time. A third car was necessary.

The problem was that said third car was not a high mileage Civic or Accord - either would have been an affordable and reliable buy - but a near brand spanking new Chevrolet Corsica. For those of you unfamiliar with the Chevy Corsica (it no longer exists), it has to be one of the most appalling, shambolic shit shows of a vehicle ever produced by an American automotive manufacturer. Seriously. Google it.

My sister and I had no knowledge of this at the time as my father was still viewed by both of us as the End All Be All of Universal Wisdom. That's some serious shit. Even though I was into my teenage angst years, I still thought of the Old Man as some sort of indestructible amalgam of Chuck Norris, Thomas Jefferson, and that guy from the Dos Equis commercials. The thought that he would be duped into buying an authentic lemon was beyond my ability to comprehend.

And then I started driving the car.

Everything about the Chevy Corsica was cheap, even the knobs on the radio felt like they were going to break as soon as you touched them (They didn't, but they only held out for a month or two). The brakes felt soft and dangerously incapable of performing their duty in an emergency situation (I think my parents invested in at least two costly brake jobs in the three years we owned the car). "Ergonomics" was clearly not a word that entered into the engineers' vocabulary when they were sitting around discussing the features they wanted to include in the car. Quite the contrary. After a few months driving the car, I began to wonder if, perhaps, the opposite had happened. Maybe the Corsica was one big joke on the American auto buying public perpetrated by Chevrolet engineers fed up with being told to constantly cut costs. It's as if they sat around and brainstormed how they could turn every good idea they had into a massive, stinking pile of suck.

Still, I was pumped to have a car to drive around in. I don't want to sound ungrateful. I have some fond memories of that car (And it's back seat...sorry Mom and Dad!). It's nice not having to ask for a ride everywhere and the freedom it afforded me as a high school kid in a part of Texas where NOTHING was within walking distance was delicious.

The downside of this situation was that my dad was still not convinced that the car was a POS. Every little creak or shimmy or grind was CLEARLY evidence to him that my sister and I were driving the car too hard and not doing our part to make sure that it was well maintained inside and out. At one point, the upholstery lining the interior of the roof of the car started to sag. Shoddy craftsmanship and cheap adhesive? No way. My sister or I had obviously done something, reckless, irresponsible, and damaging that caused the upholstery to sag. What this could have been, I still have no idea. When the brakes went out for the second time, it was because we were driving and stopping WAY too fast. I'll admit, I drove like most teenaged boys do, but not nearly aggressive enough to account for two brake jobs.

The cake taker here, and the one thing that broke on the car that my dad was absolutely unwilling to believe was not entirely my fault, happened when I was turning in to our subdivision on my way home from soccer practice. It was a completely normal, mostly forgettable day. Nothing at all out of the ordinary happened and I was in no way abnormally tense, angry, or otherwise in need of physical release. I slowed as I approached the entry to our subdivision and reached up with my left hand to click the signal arm down to make a left hand turn. I was in no way angry, tense, or overly aggressive in this motion. However, the ENTIRE FUCKING TURN SIGNAL SNAPPED and then dangled ridiculously from the side of the steering wheel. I was in shock. After I made the turn, I pulled into our driveway and inspected the clean break in what appeared to be really sturdy plastic. Operative word here being "appeared."

How was I going to explain this? Thinking I'd done no wrong and believing that honesty was the best policy, I walked into the house and confidently explained to my dad what had happened. As I spoke I realized I should have come up with a really good lie. My dad scoffed and pursed his lips in a way that said, "You're my son, and I love you, but you're also totally full of shit right now." He walked out to the driveway and inspected the impotent turn signal for himself and, I believe, became further convinced that I'd done something in keeping with the rambunctiousness of my age rather than merely gone to turn left.

The turn signal was eventually repaired, but after that day I always thought about signaling with my arm out of the window when I wanted to turn left. Once we got rid of the car I tried to explain again to my dad that what had really happened that day was exactly what I told him. I still don't think he believed me. So Dad, if you're reading this, here's a list of things I have done:

I did hide grapes in my underwear as a child because I didn't want to eat them. I then snuck said grapes away from the dinner table to be disposed of in your golf bag. I'm sorry.

I did use all of you and Mom's expensive bath gel in the tub because it was green and I thought it would be cool as toxic waste when I was playing with my GI Joe men. It didn't just start coming out of the faucet as I claimed (My most ridiculous lie ever). I'm sorry.

As a three year old, I did drop a deuce on the back porch and claim a dog had jumped the six foot fence, shit on the porch, and then re-jumped the fence to vanish into thin air (My second most ridiculous lie ever). I'm sorry.

When Mom walked in to the living room on prom night my senior year at 2AM, my date and I were not actually just watching Mr. Wizard (My third most ridiculous lie ever). Thank you, Mom for taking your time walking down the hall and being extra loud. Still, I'm sorry.

When I came home the morning after Rachel's 11AM...still in my tux, it's not because I spent the night at the hotel with the other groomsmen. Read in to that what you will. I'm sorry.

That Easter when I stayed up at school and you asked me what I did over the long weekend and I said, "Not much, just hung around campus." What I really meant to say was, "Barrett and I drove to Shreveport at 2AM and played blackjack for two days." I'm sorry.

I could go on and on, but I think I've proved my point, which is this:

When I told you the turn signal snapped off simply because I went to signal left, I mean THE TURN SIGNAL SNAPPED OFF SIMPLY BECAUSE I WENT TO SIGNAL LEFT. I'm not sorry.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

When Almost Just Isn't Good Enough

Since my last poo post I have become even more secure in my assertion that a good poo story transcends all generational, social, and economic differences to bring a smile and belly laugh (sometimes guiltily had) to all who hear it. Everyone can relate because everyone's been there, whether they admit it freely or not.

This particular story involves three of my college buddies, Mike, Big Mike, and Jon. Big Mike was so dubbed to differentiate him from the other Mike and also because he was really, really big. If I had to guess, and resisting the urge to fall prey to Paul Bunyan legend effect, Big Mike was a conservative 6'7 and had to weigh at least 300 lbs. His moniker was well deserved.

One day, being college kids and perpetually underfunded, Mike, Big Mike, and Jon decided to take full advantage of a local Pizza Hut's all you can eat buffet. I initially found it surprising how many of these stories start with "So I was at this all you can eat buffet," but given the combination of over eating and food-exposed-to-the-elements-for-God-knows-how-long-under-a-heat-lamp I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so much intestinal distress can trace its origins back to a hearty buffet. It's like a perfect storm. Moist air from the Gulf meets arctic air from Canada and BOOM, you shit your pants.

So the three protagonists in this story have probably eaten five or six pizzas worth of soggy, lukewarm buffet offerings and are coming to the end of their gorgefest. Side note: why is it that we don't use "luke" as a term to describe other middle of the road states of being? No one says Jay Cutler is a lukegood quarterback or that IKEA offers lots of stylish, lukelycrafted furniture. Think about it. Anyhow, at about the time everyone is feeling really, really full, Big Mike feels the lower intestinal rumblings of something about to go terribly wrong.

In all great poo stories there is a point at which the unfortunately afflicted main character can make a choice to endure a lesser embarrassment in order to avoid what eventually becomes the tragic ending. In my experience, this point usually occurs when said main character elects to do something silly like try to make it home in an effort to avoid having the general public take notice of his own private hell instead of using a more conveniently placed restroom and potentially stinking up the joint. I guess when the shit is going to hit the fan people would much rather be in a familiar, controlled environment. Risk aversion. Such is the case with Big Mike's tale of woe.

The thing you need to know about Big Mike is that he was a generally low key, easy going kind of guy. He typically went with the flow and never really struck me as a type A, fast working, strategic thinker. This is probably why Mike and Jon were so shocked when he sprang into action and started barking orders and laying out the plan of attack.

Big Mike drove a notoriously finicky and difficult to handle jalopy of a car that it often seemed he was the only person capable of divining a way to make run. No doubt knowing another driver would only stall his escape, he gave the following orders. Jon and Mike were to pay for the meal. He was going to get the car and pull it around to the front door. Move fast.

Jon and Mike had just paid and were approaching the front door when Big Mike came tearing around the corner in his jalopy, Sabotage style. Heeding his blaring horn, they ran out of the Pizza Hut and jumped into the car. He didn't even come to a full stop. Not entirely sure what was going on, Mike asked Big Mike what was up. Big Mike replied quickly, and without ceremony, "I'm going to shit my pants. We have to get to my apartment."

The short drive back to Big Mike's place was made in silence as Jon and Mike watched sweat bead on Big Mike's forehead. Big Mike clenched his jaw and gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. I know Big Mike was on the verge of panic and trying to keep it together, but at this point in the story I actually feel much, much, much more for Jon and Mike. I mean, seriously? They must have been terrified that Big Mike wouldn't make it and they'd be trapped in a hot, old car with bench seats when the seal finally broke.

As they approached Big Mike's apartment, the barked orders began again. Jon, being in the passenger's seat, was responsible for getting the car to a complete stop and putting it in park. Mike was handed Big Mike's apartment key, told to bail out of the back seat, and run like hell up the stairs to get the apartment unlocked. As if the situation couldn't be more clearly dire, Big Mike added at the end, "Move fast, Mike. I'll be right behind you."

They screeched into Big Mike's apartment complex and it was go time. With the car still moving, Big Mike opened the driver's door and hit the ground running. Jon dove across the front seats and slammed the car's brake with his left hand and then threw it in park with his right hand. Simultaneously, Mike jumped out of the back seat and sprinted up the stairs to Big Mike's apartment for all he was worth. Now, in case I haven't made it clear enough already, Big Mike did nothing quickly. His demeanor and size had conspired to create what I can best describe as a gentle giant of a man. However, I like to think that were Mike able to turn around on his manic sprint up the stairs, he would have described Big Mike as John described Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the The Book of Revelation. "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." Indeed.

Somehow, under all of the pressure of knowing Big Mike was moments away from turning himself inside out, Mike was able to unlock the door and step out of the way just as Big Mike threw it open and disappeared into the interior of the apartment. Jon made it up the stairs moments later and the two of them listened awkwardly as Big Mike went through the throes of explosive diarrhea from within the apartment. What they didn't know is that Big Mike had just about made it. Just about. Apparently, the pressure was just too much to contain any longer and as Big Mike dropped his shorts and began to sit down, he exploded. It was described to me as being 50/50 on target v. off target. It was also described to me as "epic," "heinous," "unholy," "incredibly foul," "having happened at a clearly ridiculous velocity," and "liquid black gunga." I have no idea what gunga is, but even though it's an obviously made up word, it may be the best example of onomatopoeia I have ever had the displeasure of hearing.

Here's to you Big Mike! You almost made it.